California 550 MW virtual power plant would be the biggest yet

by Dan Gearino, InsideClimateNews


Highlights

  • Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners and OlmConnect have collaborated on a virtual power plant project titled Resi-Station
  • Resi-Station would use batteries at homes and businesses in California to act like a 550-megawatt power plant, becoming the largest virtual power plant in the world
  • This power can be used as backup in the case of power shut-offs, wildfire risks, and other outages
  • The project kicks off in 2021, starting with 150,000 OlmConnect customers and should be fully built by 2023

Community Energy Resilience through clean energy microgrids is a key pillar in The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California Campaign.


Read More: https://insideclimatenews.org/news/10122020/inside-clean-energy-fossil-fuel-power-plants/

New solar farm at landfill to save San Joaquin County on energy costs

A local Community Choice Energy program could keep the ball rolling

A new solar farm at Foothill Landfill in Linden has hummed to life, offering $11.9 million in energy cost savings and 5.3MW of clean energy for the San Joaquin County government departments over the next 20 years. It’s a promising development as the City of Stockton explores launching a Community Choice Energy program to offer cleaner energy at competitive rates. Will San Joaquin County be next?

The county’s solar project

About five years ago, the county Board of Supervisors approved a power purchase agreement (PPA) and a lease for Ameresco Inc. to build a ground-mount solar photovoltaic system at the landfill. Following permitting delays and uncertainty over PG&E rates, the board approved amendments to the PPA and lease in 2018 to push the project forward. Construction was completed Nov. 17, 2020. 

Ameresco installed 13,770 solar modules rated at 385W-DC each, as well as 29 solar inverters rated at 125kW-AC each, enough to power over 800 homes, the company announced in a press release. The solar arrays were built on a portion of the landfill that will be unneeded for waste disposal for at least the next 25 years. The new facility is the second project the county has worked with Ameresco on at the site, the other being a 4.3 MW landfill gas to energy project.

With the new generation site, county departments are estimated to collectively save approximately $11.9 million in energy costs over the next 20 years via California’s Renewable Energy Self-Generation Bill Credit Transfer program. San Joaquin General Hospital is set to receive 51% of the savings resulting from the facility, with the rest divided among the Human Services Agency, Sheriff’s Office, Health Care Services, Public Works, and Parks and Recreation budgets. As an added bonus, the Solid Waste Enterprise Fund received an up-front lease payment of $500,000 upon completion of the project.

County Supervisors Kathy Miller and Chuck Winn were quoted in the press release touting the economic and environmental benefits of investing in renewable energy development.

“San Joaquin County, and its local communities, have long prioritized the development of renewable energy resources, both for reducing emissions and supplementing existing electricity generation,” said Chair Kathy Miller. “In addition to its environmental impact, the solar energy system will provide further utility cost savings to our region, which will directly benefit residents and local governments’ ability to better serve its constituents.”

Winn stated, “As a leader in green energy, San Joaquin County is always looking for ways to provide an improved environment for our residents while at the same time providing cost savings to taxpayers.”

Check out this video to learn more about the project.

A Community Choice Energy program could ramp up local renewable energy development

We’re encouraged to see local, innovative investment in renewable energy, and we hope the county’s next move will be to evaluate Community Choice Energy, as the City of Stockton and more than 160 other California cities have done. 

When Ameresco’s lease at the landfill site is up with the county two decades from now, the solar farm will become the property of the county. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to own that electricity and continue to build local capacity rather than selling it to another area? A Community Choice agency would make that possible.

By taking the steps to procure power on behalf of residents and businesses at competitive rates, San Joaquin County could take a lead role in coordinating renewable energy projects across its 900,000-plus acres of land. That could include initiating large-scale and small-scale solar projects, using vacant parcels, rooftops and parking lots with the potential of bringing jobs to the area. Given that Community Choice agencies (CCAs) are not-for-profit entities operated by the local government, more of the benefits of such projects can be retained in the San Joaquin County community.

Numerous other benefits CCAs have provided around the state are reasons to pursue the program as well. Those include support for electric vehicles, innovative energy storage projects, bringing residents a voice and a choice in local energy decisions, generating reserve funds that can be reinvested into the community through tailored programs, and offering competitive power generation rates, among others. Community Choice Energy is precisely the kind of economic innovation the county should be pursuing in its post-COVID roadmap.

The Climate Center recently co-hosted a business forum with The San Joaquin Partnership to provide the Stockton business community with information and updates about the City’s ongoing evaluation of launching a CCA. You can view the recording of that forum here to learn more about Community Choice Energy opportunities in Stockton and San Joaquin County.

The first major long-duration storage procurement has arrived


Highlights

  • Eight of California’s community choice agencies have published a request for offers seeking 500 megawatts of long-duration storage capacity, helping the state meet its need for 1 gigawatt of long-duration storage by 2026
  • Long-duration storage allows resources like wind and solar to provide power for longer periods of time
  • There is no firm definition of what “long-duration” storage can be, but examples range from 4 to 150 hours
  • Eligible projects must provide at least 50 megawatts of power capacity, be able to provide power for 8 hours, and be functional by 2026
  • California needs 40 gigawatts of long-duration storage by 2045 in order to meet the states carbon-free electricity goals

Community Choice Energy can be one of the most powerful ways to accelerate the transition from dirty fossil fuels to clean energy sources. The Climate Center has helped Community Choice expand throughout the state, resulting in cleaner energy for 11 million Californians.


Read More: https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/the-first-long-duration-storage-procurement-has-arrived

Rocky Mountain Institute study shows renewables are kicking natural gas to the curb

by Steve Hanley, Clean Technica


Highlights

  • New research from the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) shows that renewable energy is leading natural gas as the preferred choice of new electricity generation 
  • The study looks at energy projects from two of America’s largest electricity markets — ERCOT and PJM
  • RMI argues that there should be a shift away from utility monopolies and an embrace of open competition 
  • Over the past two years, there has been a transition away from building new gas fired plants towards more renewable energy projects as they are performing better within electricity markets 
  • Since 2018 the demand for clean energy projects has doubled while gas project demands have been cut in half, leaving over $30 billion worth of gas projects canceled or abandoned 
  • Voting in climate champions will promote federal policies that prioritize clean energy and help appoint the right people into government agencies like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 

Scientists are increasingly warning that to avoid catastrophic impacts from climate change, the world’s governments must implement massive reductions of warming emissions and begin a drawdown of greenhouse gases (GHG) from the atmosphere over the decade ahead.  For a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.


Read More: https://cleantechnica.com/2020/10/03/rocky-mountain-institute-study-shows-renewables-are-kicking-natural-gas-to-the-curb/

U.S. clean power giants to join forces to build lobbying muscle

by Brian Eckhouse, Bloomberg


Highlights

  • A new lobbying organization named the American Clean Power Association has formed in order to advocate for more renewable policies
  • The country’s top wind power trade group is teaming up with some big-name energy groups such as NextEra Energy, Avangrid, and Berkshire Hathaway Energy to form this association
  • The renewables industry spent less than $18 million on lobbying in 2019, while the fossil fuel industry spent $104 million
  • The Association aims to make renewables such as wind and solar the USA’s primary power source by prioritizing environmental policy, market reform and grid modernization

Fossil fuel divestment and the transition to 100% clean energy is critical to achieving The Climate Center’s goals under the Climate-Safe California Platform.


Read More: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-09-03/u-s-clean-power-giants-to-join-forces-to-build-lobbying-muscle?sref=ABTRBDIh

Blackouts: Let’s build reliable clean power

“One factor that did not cause the rotating outage: California’s commitment to clean energy. Renewable energy did not cause the rotating outages.” That’s right, California’s climate policies and clean energy goals did not cause the state’s recent blackouts, as the three lead California energy agencies wrote in a letter to the Governor and the Legislature in August.

The solution to periods of high demand for electricity such as during heatwaves has historically been to increase supply. California Public Utilities Commission current rules require utilities to buy 15% excess energy capacity beyond what they would need during the forecast peaks for a given time of year. This approach failed us in August.

A 21st-century clean, reliable, safe, and equitable energy system can make the difference.

Clean energy community microgrids can enable utilities to better target specific outages and to isolate local electricity generation from the larger grid. This would ensure that essential governmental, health, and other services would remain powered in communities during outages.

As I wrote in The Climate Center’s op-ed published this past Sunday in the Sacramento Bee, “With wildfire season fully upon us, more power shutoffs leaving Californians in the dark are imminent. Add an economic crisis and a pandemic and it’s clear there is no time to lose.”

Sadly, PG&E’s approach to reliable power this year has included dirty diesel back-up generators that exacerbate climate change and create air pollution making us all more vulnerable to COVID– while not actually ensuring a stable grid.

Ironically, the first day that the blackouts hit, August 14, was also a deadline for formal comments on microgrids at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which regulates utilities such as PG&E. The Climate Center recently filed comments with Vote Solar urging the CPUC to fast-track its current rulemaking to open up microgrid markets and prioritize clean energy resilience for lower-income communities in particular.

We also have the technology right now to automatically reduce electricity use on the grid. Pre-agreements with large commercial and industrial customers can ensure that power is made available when needed to keep the system stable. Customers can even get paid to allow it, which is already happening in some places. The August blackouts were the result of a one-gigawatt (1,000 megawatts) shortfall, but this approach has been estimated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to have the potential to free up over 4 gigawatts for California.

The dramatic climate impacts we are seeing right now here in California are further evidence of the urgency to act on the climate crisis. Please join us in supporting Community Energy Resilience and endorse Climate-Safe California today. Our science-based goal is to achieve net-negative emissions and the start of drawdown by 2030 in California, inspiring our country and the world to accelerated climate action.

To date, we have over 500 endorsements including businesses, non-profits, individuals, and government officials (see more here). Join us to help us exceed 1000 endorsements by December before the next session of the state legislature. Share this with your family, friends, and colleagues, and ask them to endorse and engage.

Together we will build the power required to secure a just transition to a climate-safe, equitable future for all.

California Community Choice agencies eye long duration batteries for energy storage


Highlights

  • A group of 11 small scale, local agencies called Community Choice Agencies (CCAs) have issued a request for information regarding long-duration battery storage that can hold power for at least 8 hours
  • The storage can be used to take in excess solar power from the day and shift its use for night time and morning energy needs
  • The request for storage comes after the California Public Utilities Commission adopted a 46 million metric ton (MMT) greenhouse gas emission target for the electric sector by 2030 early this year
  • The request for new storage will help create new economic opportunities and help fight climate change by lessening the state’s dependence on fossil fuels in our energy system

Community Choice Energy can be one of the most powerful ways to accelerate the transition from dirty fossil fuels to clean energy sources, and The Climate Center is working to spread it throughout California for a climate-safe future


Read More: https://www.utilitydive.com/news/california-ccas-solicit-info-on-long-duration-storage-with-possible-procur/579505/

How to drive fossil fuels out of the US economy, quickly

by David Roberts, Vox


Highlights

  • A new initiative, Rewiring America founded by Saul Griffith, asserts that rapid decarbonization through electrification would create 15 million to 20 million jobs in the next decade and that it’s possible to eliminate 70 percent to 80 percent of US carbon emissions by 2035 through rapid deployment of existing electrification technologies, with little-to-no carbon capture and sequestration. 
  • Rewiring America: 
    • Asserts that successfully addressing the climate crisis will require a mobilization similar to the economic mobilization that took place in the U.S. during World War II
    • Has produced a dashboard that collects all data on how energy is used in the U.S. It tracks where every unit of energy enters the economy and how it is used as it passes through
    • Asserts that no new technology advancements are needed and no great sacrifice will be required to decarbonize the economy
    • Relies on five well-established technologies: wind power, solar power, electric vehicles, electric heat pumps, and energy storage
    • Asserts that market mechanisms will not work in time to achieve goals and that a command and control approach is what it will take.

Image from Rewiring America/Saul Griffith, sourced on Vox

 


Fossil fuel divestment and the transition to 100% clean energy is critical to achieving The Climate Center’s goals under the Climate-Safe California Platform.


Read More: https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/21349200/climate-change-fossil-fuels-rewiring-america-electrify

"Powerplant" by Nucho is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

New Mexico’s plan to shut down coal without leaving people behind

by Julian Spector, Greentech Media


Highlights

  • The Public Service Company of New Mexico plans to build 650 megawatts of solar power and 300 megawatts of battery capacity to divest its share of the San Juan coal plant in 2022
  • New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich advocates for solar and storage instead of any new gas facilities in New Mexico, and put emphasizes the importance of economically supporting the areas where coal plants will retire 
  • New Mexico has three coal plants and has allocated millions of dollars for the communities where these plants are and have established rate savings for customers as coal phases out
  • Sen. Heinrich notes that solar jobs don’t require as much full-time operational staff compared to traditional energy plants and says the solution needs to be broader than just the energy industry:

“Your economic development policy, it’s wise to diversify that, and not be reliant on any single economic driver for a community,”

  • A study from Energy Innovation shows that municipal and cooperative utilities could exit 22.5 gigawatts of coal power in favor of solar by 2025 while saving money for their customers

Fossil fuel divestment and the transition to 100% clean energy is critical to achieving The Climate Center’s goals under the Climate-Safe California Platform. The Climate Center’s guiding principles in achieving our goals include striving to close the climate gap and ensuring a just transition for workers.


Read More: https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/new-mexicos-plan-to-shut-down-coal-without-leaving-people-behind

Solar installers at cohousing in Cotati, California

How local energy providers are ensuring energy resilience

by Sarah Golden, GreenBiz


Highlights

  • California’s Community Choice Agencies (CCAs) are providing ratepayers with energy resilience programs for the upcoming fire season
  • Four Northern California CCAs, East Bay Community Energy, MCE (Marin Community Energy), Peninsula Clean Energy, and Silicon Valley Clean Energy, have recently announced solar plus battery storage projects in their territories 
  • CCAs have implemented these solar and storage programs before their investor-owned utility counterparts, such as PG&E or SoCal Edison 
    • This may be due to the fact that CCAs focus on the communities in their territories and have no responsibilities to shareholders
    • Big utilities are addressing resiliency on the whole electrical grid as opposed to smaller communities 
  • Creating resilience programs takes time, as plans, solicitations, applications, and negotiation processes take many months 

Community Choice Energy can be one of the most powerful ways to accelerate the transition from dirty fossil fuels to clean energy sources, and The Climate Center is working to spread it throughout California for a climate-safe future


Read More: https://www.greenbiz.com/article/how-local-energy-providers-are-ensuring-energy-resilience